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CBD is booming but US Farmers struggle to meet the current demands of industrial hemp




Industrial Hemp

Hollywood is crushing over CBD based beauty products, it is the new superfood everyone wants to taste. With the inception of legalization of industrial hemp, people are going fanatic about CBD based products. Companies are sprawling to scout out cannabis manufactures and distributors. However, not all are getting a good quality CBD.

Congress legalized industrial hemp in December, 2018, which has led to a massive boom in the market regarding CBD based products for the consumers on a large scale. It is supposedly reported to deliver calming effects and help treating ailments such as stress, anxiety, panic attacks, seizures, convulsions and even cancer.

CBD stands for cannabinoid which is a component of the hemp-plant. It is non=psychoactive in nature and thus does not cause any high, THC on the other hand is a psychoactive component which if consumed in high frequency and high potency, over time can cause permanent mental disorders.

Legalization of CBD has brought up new ways for treating patients. According to investment research firm Cowen, last year, retail sales of CBD consumer based products in the United States were estimated between $600 million and $2 billion. The bank forecasts sales to reach $16 billion by 2025, with health and wellness products leading the way for cannabis infused food, beverage, beauty and vapour.


Production and Processing – Seed to CBD

The current supply chain – from plants, to extraction, to labs is brimming with issues. While the nascent industry is trying to cope this, demand for processed CBD is increasing exponentially, leaving producers frustrated and consumers on hold waiting for a good CBD based product.

George Weiblen, a professor at the University of Minnesota who has been researching and studying about cannabis since 2002 says, “There are huge challenges to produce industrial hemp required for meeting the current rising demand. It’s not that simple as growing tomatoes. It’s just not…the possibility of failure to produce quality cannabis extracts is huge.”

Decades of farming techniques and agricultural modernization have tamed staple crops like wheat and corn. Farmers know exactly what to expect from the crops at the beginning of the season when they plant them. The course of action taken in farming of these crops is quite straightforward and simple, however, this is not the case with CBD. Farming of CBD is a difficult task to achieve as compared to other farm products.

People have created their own modified versions of farming hemp. Farmers have been continually growing hemp over the years which has armed them with certain knowledge about how to grow good quality hemp.

“Farmers have kept their operations quiet and developed their own techniques that are a little different” said Christian Cypher, a senior vice president at Pyxus International who is leading the agriculture company’s work.

He also said that “Growing hemp is more religion than science.”

David Williams, an agronomist at the University of Kentucky who studies hemp says that most farmers are growing hemp like tomato, the process is quite expensive and inefficient. This model of farming works for marijuana because you want the flower to look and smell nice, However, since we will be using only CBD Oil which is present in the seeds of the flowers, investing so much in its farming, specifically for looks is a complete wastage.

“If the molecule is of interest and becomes broadly distributed, it will need to be far more efficient than what we have today,” said Williams.


CBD- An Expensive affair

Industrial hemp produces such small amounts of CBD that farming it and extracting the molecule is an expensive affair. According to a study conducted by Weiblen, one Canadian certified industrial hemp strain produced an average of 0.6 percent CBD and 0.03 percent THC.

Federal law aligns with this and has strictly said that CBD is legal as long as it contains less than 0.03 percent THC in it. Arcadia Biosciences, a company which is a key player in the wheat farming market has recently stepped in to the cannabis space where they aim to produce hemp with higher concentrations of CBD with no or reliably less percent of THC.

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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